St. Giles' Cathedral

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St. Giles' Cathedral: Our most recommended tours and activities

Edinburgh: Ghostly Underground Vaults Tour

1. Edinburgh: Ghostly Underground Vaults Tour

Explore Edinburgh's ghostly past on a guided tour through the streets of the Old Town and its underground vaults. Listen as your cloaked guide tells you tales of the city's dark and grim past as you are led along the Royal Mile. If you dare, step into the narrow alleyways, which are only a few feet wide. Make your way to the South Bridge, and head underneath, where Edinburgh's Vaults are located. Once storage areas for businesses and shops in the area, the vaults were taken over in the late 1700s and turned into living spaces. Eventually, the area became home to slums and the city's red-light district. As you walk through these now-vacant rooms, you will hear tales of the deplorable living conditions, as well as of the crime that once raged through the vaults. When you emerge from the underground, consider yourself lucky that it isn't in the dead of night.

Comedy Horror Show: Edinburgh Ghost Bus Tour

2. Comedy Horror Show: Edinburgh Ghost Bus Tour

Enjoy a theatrical sightseeing tour of Edinburgh onboard the Ghost Bus, a beautifully refurbished vintage double-decker, painted in traditional midnight black. Learn about Edinburgh’s grave robbers, plague victims, and the ghosts that reside in the most haunted city in Europe. Explore the city's gruesome past, while admiring its most famous monuments, including Edinburgh Castle, Grassmarket, Greyfriar's Kirk, Holyrood Palace, and the Royal Mile. As you traverse the Old Town and New Town, visit the sites of murders, tortures, and executions. Hear about the infamous Burke and Hare, and the hundreds of women who were drowned or burned as witches. The bus, which belonged to the Necropolis Bus Company, boasts decorative features that include atmospheric lamps and window curtains. In 1967, the entire fleet was destroyed in a mysterious fire, and only one bus survived.

Edinburgh: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Pass with 3 City Tours

3. Edinburgh: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Pass with 3 City Tours

Save money and explore Edinburgh at your own pace with a 3-route hop-on hop-off bus tour ticket. Pick from a ticket that lasts for 24 or 48 hours. Explore the city with stop options like Grassmarket, Edinburgh Castle, National Museum of Scotland, and the Royal Botanic Gardens. Hop aboard and embark on your city adventure. Contrast the Old and New Towns, see the royal attractions of Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Yacht Britannia (entrances not included). Live guides provide English commentary on the Edinburgh Tour, while audio guides are available in up to 9 languages on the City Sightseeing Tour and the Majestic Tour. Hop on and off as often as you like at dozens of attractions, and enjoy unique, scenic views from the open-top upper decks. City Sightseeing Tour: Hear about the people and events that shaped Edinburgh, from the cramped conditions of the Old Town to spacious Holyrood Park, on a classic sightseeing tour in 9 languages. Enjoy Terry Deary’s Horrible Histories with the on board Horrible Histories Children’s Channel - history with all the gory bits left in! • Hanover Street • Princes Street Gardens • St. John’s Church • Grassmarket • Johnston Terrace • Edinburgh Castle • National Museum of Scotland • Museum of Childhood • Scottish Parliament • Our Dynamic Earth • Palace of Holyrood House • Burns Monument Edinburgh Tour: Enjoy the best views aboard an open-top bus, as live commentary in English brings Edinburgh’s history to life. Explore the Old Town and Georgian New Town, hopping off at 9 strategic stops. • Hanover Street • George Street • Charlotte Square • The Mound • Lawnmarket • Grassmarket • Our Dynamic Earth • Scottish Parliament • Canongate Kirk Majestic Tour: Leave the city center and head to the coast at Newhaven, with stops for the Royal Botanic Garden and Royal Yacht Britannia. This multi-language tour offers commentary through headphones in English, Gaelic, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese and Russian. Return via the Palace of Holyrood House and the Canongate section of the Royal Mile. • Hanover Street • George Street • Royal Botanic Gardens • Ferry Road • Newhaven Harbour • Cruise Terminal • Ocean Terminal (Royal Yacht Britannia) • Leith Mills • Elm Row • Queen Mary’s Bath House • Queensberry House • Canongate Kirk

Edinburgh: Historic Underground Vaults Daytime Tour

4. Edinburgh: Historic Underground Vaults Daytime Tour

The Story of the Underground This is a chance to visit our Underground Vaults – the deepest, largest and most extensive in the city in the company of a Mercat historian. After sitting unexplored for two centuries, there are many questions waiting to be answered…Why were the Vaults built? When and who by? Who used the Vaults? When and why? How did they work, and play? Your guide will recount their history, recall their stories and answer your questions during this glimpse into our past.

Edinburgh: Old Town History and Tales Walking Tour

5. Edinburgh: Old Town History and Tales Walking Tour

You will meet your guide on Edinburgh's iconic and historic Royal Mile, by the Statue of Adam Smith (one of Scotland's greatest thinkers). From there, your tour will be lead through the gorgeous winding streets that comprise Edinburgh's "Old Town". Covering everything from history to religion and folklore, this walking tour is an original tour of Edinburgh’s medieval Old Town. Your talented and entertaining guide will walk you through the streets and alleys of "Auld Reekie", while enthralling you with with its history, folklore, and tales! You will learn about the secrets Edinburgh is hiding and experience the incredible stories it has to tell, as your guide leads you through the city's long history. Topics included in the tour include Edinburgh's Mercat Cross, St. Giles Cathedral, the Scottish Enlightenment, Greyfriars Bobby, the Grassmarket, Harry Potter's inspirations, and many more. Your tour will finish in the heart of Edinburgh, surrounded by several bars, restaurants, cafe's, and great transport links.

Edinburgh: 3-Hour Guided Walking Tour

6. Edinburgh: 3-Hour Guided Walking Tour

Discover Edinburgh’s historical, cultural, and architectural heritage on a small and intimate walking tour guided by one of the most knowledgeable locals possible. Stuart or Richard Usher, of Scotland's famous and historic House of Usher, or Dr. Alison Duncan, Scotland expert and professional historian, will guide you through this beautiful city. You’ll see many of the city’s highlights, including Usher Hall and Edinburgh Castle. You’ll walk along the Royal Mile, tour the interior of St. Giles Cathedral, and visit several of Edinburgh's famous landmarks. Your guide, has an extensive knowledge of Edinburgh's history and architecture and the many famous people that the city has produced over the centuries. They will share their knowledge of Edinburgh with you in an informative, personable, and enjoyable manner. Have no fear, as it won't all be serious stuff! Your guide will also show you the Mound, and take you on a tour of the National Galleries of Scotland. At the gallery you’ll see paintings by masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Raphael, and many others. Also, typically you will see Princes Street and Princes Street Gardens, the Scott Monument, George Street, and Charlotte Square.

Edinburgh City: Self-Guided Audio Walking Tour

7. Edinburgh City: Self-Guided Audio Walking Tour

Download an MP3 audio guide and explore Edinburgh's famous attractions at your own pace. Begin your tour at Edinburgh Castle, a building that dates back to the 12th century. See the Scottish Crown Jewels, the magnificent St Giles' Cathedral, Mary King's Close, and walk past underground alleys with a layered history. See the Princes Street Gardens, the Royal Mile, Tolbooth Kirk, the George IV Bridge, Edinburgh City Chambers, Tron Kirk, and the Scottish Parliament Building. Drop by at Deacon Brodie's tavern and try Edinburgh's best haggis, a national delicacy immortalized in poetry by Robbie Burns (the National Bard of Scotland). 

Edinburgh: Scotland's Dark Secrets Walking Tour

8. Edinburgh: Scotland's Dark Secrets Walking Tour

Marvel at the mysteries lurking behind Edinburgh on a walking tour focusing on the city's darker side. Visit Edinburgh Castle, Grey Friars Kirkyard, and the Old Tollbooth Prison. Let your guide thrill you with macabre, twisted tales from days gone by. Learn about witches and ghosts from the city's past and find out which ones are still lurking around today. Soak up every creaky nook and cranny while you search for signs of ghosts and ghouls on this unforgettable walking tour of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh: Outlander Walking Tour

9. Edinburgh: Outlander Walking Tour

The year is 1745 and the Jacobite rising has reached the city gates of Edinburgh. Bonnie Prince Charlie is met by a cheering crowd of 20,000 strong. Amid the chaos of rebellion are Claire and Jamie, the Outlander characters entwined in a story that spans centuries. On this 2-hour walking tour your guide will trace the real events that inspired Diana Gabaldon’s acclaimed novels. The story captures the spirit of the Jacobite rebellion in Edinburgh: The Redcoats, the Highlanders and the smell of gunpowder in the air. Your expert guide will take you deep into the Old Town, to the places where history was made: Tolbooth Jail, Canongate Kirkyard and the World’s End Tavern. If Edinburgh is the setting for the second Outlander novel, you’ll be going behind the scenes!

Edinburgh: Old Town Historical Walking Tour

10. Edinburgh: Old Town Historical Walking Tour

Hidden gems are waiting to be discovered. The best way to explore Edinburgh is to follow your feet. Where the buses can’t take you and the guide books don’t show you is where the city’s stories lie, in the closes, wynds, courtyards and homes of Old Edinburgh. You will visit the sites that are tucked away to see the secrets and hear the tales. Your guide will help you unlock Edinburgh's fascinating past, the culture, crime, politics and people of Scotland’s capital.

Other Sightseeing Options in St. Giles' Cathedral

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What people are saying about St. Giles' Cathedral

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 4,230 reviews

Kieran was the most amazing guide ever! Truly passionate and funny. Very captivating at no point did we feel bored or inattentive. The tour is very well thought through, interesting and full of creepy fun facts. Would absolutely recommend to anyone interested in the horrors Edinburgh has seen.

The tour guide was easy to find and the guides approachable. Once we were there, they explained what would happen and how. The experience was a brilliant one and if your looking for an interesting and different stories regarding Edinburghs past; this tour is for you.

We had a very informative walk through the old town of Edinburgh with John. He knew his stuff and went at a good pace for our group. He was very friendly and we were at ease with him and felt able to ask questions as we went. We would highly recommend this tour.

Mr Usher guided us around the city of Edinburgh. His wit and knowledge of the history was very entertaining. Highly recommended.

Wonderful guide! Wonderful stories! Great 2 hours! Fully recommended